The first time I heard the joke it was told by the now long deceased comedian Danny Thomas: the one about the mid-Eastern camel driver who whacked the animal across its head, “to get its attention.” I have run out of ideas that might get the attention of the average American, at least for a long enough moment to get him or her to interrupt the indulging in the mind-numbing feast of incessantly and insidiously stupid TV programs, to actually consider reading a few Cliff’s Notes paragraphs on the Constitution, on basic economics, on an outline of US and world history . . .. However, though I may have run out of ideas, I’ve still some hope.
Upon the provocation of Chris Hedges' “It’s not going to be ok” offering in February 4’s Alternet (http://www.alternet.org/workplace/125192/?page=entire), I reported how a handful of years ago I’d toyed with the idea of writing a novel entitled “No Law” that would describe the total civil collapse in this country and around the globe into no law. The motivator behind the imagined rending of the social fabric would be the prolonged droughts we had been experiencing, droughts that resulted in the fact of basic food stuffs being available only to the wealthiest, whose purchases of astronomically-priced groceries would be from heavily fortified outlets. “It’s not going to be ok” prophesies a similar breakdown, but one that is the consequence of a collapsed economy that has produced armies of unemployed.
The recent riots in Iceland — essentially unreported in the US and unknown by most Americans — that brought down that country’s government over the looming catastrophe, is the tip of an iceberg. Bear in mind that few violent revolutions take place in the dead of winter. Most occur sometime during the dog days of summer, when unrelenting heat frays the thin thread of patience of standing-around-with-nothing-to-do young men.
More than half our population is too young to recall Watts or Newark or Detroit burning in the long hot summers of the 60s. Back then, it was young African-Americans whose unrequited patience to realize the promises of equal and fair justice had been shorn of all reasons for restraint. Now, ponder the growing tsunami of whites whose jobs, whose homes, whose cars, whose hopes have been stolen from them. Add a number of weeks of 95-degree days, 90-degree nights, 80 to 90% humidity, to no perceived avenue of escape from the heat, the humidity and the rot of hopelessness; then add 80-proof alcohol and a spark.
It doesn’t matter how you might assert there’s just no validity to the inferno of cities set afire. The psychology of mob rule just doesn’t follow that law. Under protracted stress it wends toward no law, until violently accosted by the brutality of despotism.
It is well in everyone’s self interest to read the basic economics and reasoned forecasts contained in Walter Bello’s article, “Asia: The Coming Fury;” (available in full at http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/02/10-5). However Bello focuses on Asia, a better bet — especially given the early indications via Iceland’s example — might be to propose the upset apple cart could very well be pan-global in scope. Bello suggests that, very much in error, the various Asian economies had seen their region as not irretrievably coupled to that of the United States, that should the US suffer a serious slowdown they would nonetheless manage to persevere without suffering cataclysmic devastation. He posits that was not only fallacious, it was dangerously fallacious.
Essentially the fallacy was built on the supposition that the US could continue indefinitely into some halcyon future as primarily a consuming economy, and that they would be the ones who fed America. It was a fallacy that was a union-busted, engineer-free train that began to roll under Ronald Reagan and the GOP, and it was at full speed, auto-pilot . . . until last year. So damn much the lyrics from the rock-musical Evita:
And the money kept rolling in from every side
Eva’s pretty hands reached out and they reached wide
Now you may feel it should have been a voluntary cause
But that’s not the point my friends.
When the money keeps rolling in you don’t ask how
When the money keeps rolling out you don’t keep books
You can tell you’ve done well by the happy grateful looks
Accountants only slow things down, figures get in the way
Never been a lady loved as much as Eva Peron.